Above is one of my favorite snap shots I took while visiting the Cotswolds region in England. We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bourton on the Water and took several trips to neighboring villages and this was snapped near Stow. This beautiful Countryside area would be my decision if thinking of a move to the UK. The charm and style of each village we visited was like stepping back in time to pages in a favorite picture book. This particular home captures both simple design and stately charm! From the stone of the home matching the colors of stone in the pebble walkways, to the single urn of colorful flowering geraniums and ivy, the manicured hedges around the urn to those of the two Topiary's at the sides of the front door.... a picture of simple elegance! For me my thoughts were imagining the interior and of course cooking in its lovely English kitchen.
What entices me about English style and its charm is they savor the tradition of years ago. Even when homes are not as large as the lovely one above their yards reflect the English garden theme. Maybe a single urn or two of greenery of perhaps just a patch of wild flowers. Crisp white curtains on clear glass(no screens) look so neat.
Their villages still have Mom and Pop stores that offer the distinct taste in both food and home goods their shoppers desire. From bakeries and sweet shops, to cheese and gourmet goodies, your palate will taste only the best! Then there are small interesting bookshops, toy stores, and fabulous home good stores with unique styles. My favorite was a kitchen store in Stow where I was amazed at how many toast racks there were to choose from. I loved having a toast rack on the breakfast table table each morning and silver rimmed individual butter dishes. The butter dishes are common here but seldom do I see a toast rack.
Aw yes that English flair! Simplicity with distinct preference as toast in a toast rack does not lay on each other and become soft and soggy but stays dry to be the perfect vessel for delicious butter. We did enjoy the full English breakfast of eggs, ham or sausages, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and black pudding. Many shops offer fried bread with the breakfast as well. I was a little hesitant to taste the black pudding as it is made with not only pork fat or beef suet but also pork blood and added oatmeal and sometimes barley groats. I decided I would taste it and actually found it to be quite good. It will not make my top 5 recipes or even an attempt on my part to recreate but rather if in a good Pub in New York or England I'd have a taste with breakfast.
Below are some of the lovely shops I visited and tasted some fabulous cheese and sweets as well. I still enjoy envisioning being the shop keeper to one of these special stores! ;)
The English have a savvy way of creating tasteful, distinctive and simple style. Elegant is Elegant, Formal is Formal and Casual has a flair of its own! Traditions seem timeless and protocol still a very Royal Perspective. As they say in England "The Old Guard still reigns at Buckingham Palace." Perhaps I will follow suit here across the Pond in Florida and Oh yes.... I will be putting out my toast rack for breakfast tomorrow and serve myself with style and recall the beautiful Holiday spent in the Cotswolds.
As the New Year unfolds I'm excited like everyone else to try and trim away a few pounds.......alright a lot of pounds!!! ;)
Having returned from our New York Holidays and the lovely cold weather I'm excited to try out some new great soup recipes. My favorite soup this trip was Potato Leek soup that we had at Connolly's 121 West 45th Street between 6th and 7th if your in the NYC area. The Pub features both an upstairs and downstairs....we sat downstairs in a booth not far from the Bar. It was an overcast day Dec 30 and we had just finished a carriage ride through Central Park where we were so excited as when we were pulling back to get off we actually had some snow flurries. I thought at first it was rain but the Driver of the Carriage a spirited Irish man said no it was actually snow flurries. Seeing the white flakes flying through the air made me feel completely blissful! I know it sounds corny but I'm sincere when I say its not only checking a moment off a list as completed but rather getting truly caught up in the moment with that special feeling in your heart. The ride was so nice as our driver was so talkative. I loved his Irish accent and thought about it again later sitting in Connolly's. Yes this was going to be a truly Irish day as we were meeting my Daughter later downtown at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for Dinner.
Lunch would be light so we just ordered a bowl of soup and I a Bloody Mary and my Husband Rocco a Bourbon Manhattan.
The drinks came and we cheered to a wonderful visit we were having in New York. My Potato Leek soup arrived and it was absolutely delicious! Creamy with the taste of the leeks being perfect. I added a little hot sauce and swirled it around and loved the tangy flavor it created. To be so excited over a bowl of soup to some might seem odd, but for me it was so much more. From the quaint room where we were sitting with its rich dark furniture and cozy atmosphere to the Christmas lights twinkling, and people engaged in conversations and poof I was imagining being in a Pub in Ireland where I could ask the Bartender to pull me a pint! A moment becomes a memory when you feel it in your heart and I will always remember the taste of my Soup at Connolly's that cold December Day!
My favorite Irish Cookbook is pictured below.....Here is their recipe for Potato Leek Soup..........My special tweek to their recipe is to add a shake or two of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. It's a little jar of magic that combines onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley,basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary,cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel,tomato granules, lemon juice powder and oil of lemon. I use this flavorful blend in so many soups, salads and always that special boost in a Bloody Mary!
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter
1 onion chopped
2 Leeks sliced
2 potatoes cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup light cream optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the prepared vegetables and saute gently for 2-3 minutes, until soft but not brown. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend the soup in the saucepan using a handheld immersion blender if you have one. Alternatively pour into a blender or food processor, process until smooth, and return to the rinsed out saucepan.
Reheat the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper .Ladle into warm bowls and serve swirled with sour cream, if using and garnished with the chives. * I would omit the salt if using the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's.
Enjoy and maybe find some Irish music on Pandora and create that Irish Pub atmosphere right at home.
Happy Happy New Year To All!!
Sending wishes from our Family to yours for health, happiness and a year of experiences that light up your heart! My husband Rocco and I spent the Christmas and New Years holidays in New York this year with my daughter Stephanie and son Stephen. We are so lucky to have Stephanie living in New York City (my favorite place) and hosting our Christmas festivities this year! Stephen flew in from Orlando and we truly had an amazing time visiting many relatives, friends both old and some new and the amazing backdrop of one of the most interesting cities in the World. From sharing old traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas day to new and exciting experiences ringing in the New Year in Central Park came a heartfelt feeling of being Blessed !
We began our Holiday on Dec 21st arriving in NYC Kennedy Airport at about midnight. The hustle and bustle of the City traffic was in full swing even at Midnight! You could actually feel like it was midday with the energy in the air....of course crisp and cold like I enjoy so I was thrilled! ;)
Our first day was spent Christmas shopping and then picking up some groceries as we had our first get together with some of my Daughters co-workers. Simple Rigatoni and meat Sauce, Salad and Garlic Bread with Mozerella Cheese and Roasted Peppers. Wine, Pasta, good conversations .... a great way to start the Holidays. Our son Stephen flew in the next day about 8pm and when he arrived we walked over to Grays Papaya and had a NY hotdog. A New York tradition and always open we laughed and munched thinking of all the gourmet and ethnic foods in New York and we're eating a hot dog at 9:30 but not just any hot dog rather enjoying a New York institution! Theres a sign outside the building that reads. "Let's be Frank...we want you to buy our Furters! " Ya gotta (LOL) love New York humor!!!
On Christmas Eve we headed for Penn station and took the New Jersey Transit to our niece and nephews house Peggy and Dominick and celebrated the Feast of the 7 Fishes. It was extra special this Year as my Husbands older Brother and his wife MaryLee were there as well. A wonderful evening sharing with our great Nephews Nicky and Dom Jr and his girlfriend Olga. Once again when you pair Delicious Food, Great Family with memories of Christmas Past and toast with a glass of wine your heart feels full! OK a beautiful Hallmark moment and now I have to share the casualty of the evening.......my Big toe! As my Daughter was sitting down on a bench by the table(to accommodate more people) it collapsed and the leg went through my shoe and smashed my toe so hard.....now picture this everyone is saying poor Stephanie who fell as well but they didnt realize the leg of the bench went through my foot. It was actually comical as I was screaming silently and then gave a big OMG get her off me soI was able to get some relief! I was so lucky as it didnt break the skin but bruised badly.....well anyway there was no time for theatrics as Peggy had just put a steaming bowl of Spaghetti and Clam sauce on the table and the pain was eased by an extra glass of wine that evening! ;) Along with the Spaghetti and Clam Sauce we enjoyed Stuffed Clams, Tuna Meatballs, Whiting, Smelts, Shrimp, Baccala Salad and Flounder.
At midnight we went to Mass at their Parish and that too was so nice. They had a tremendous choir and we sang all the traditional Christmas Carols. It felt so good with the cold weather outside and the organ playing O Holy Night and the Choir singing .... a very special evening indeed!
Christmas Day we exchanged presents and then sat down to a delicious Breakfast of Eggs Benedict. After breakfast, I made two breads for dinner. A Lemon onion Focaccia and a zuccini bread. I had practiced both recipes and they came out delish! Peggy made traditional Ham with Mashed Potatoes and Baked Beans and applesauce ,and I made fresh stringbeans with garlic and fresh tomato. It all went together well and we had such fun visiting. Peggy's brother Gerrard was there with his wife Dee and son Keith and daughter Kaitlin and boyfriend Eric. It was such a relaxing Day and it seemed like we were laughing most of the day. Once again sharing a table with Family, Friends, and good Food and you can count your Blessings. Thanks again Peggy and Dom for a very Merry Christmas!
Our two week holiday in New York left us with so many memories to hold in our hearts. New Years Eve was magical watching the fireworks in Central Park. Where we were standing by the croquet court near 69th street you could see Times Square through a space between two buildings. We could make out the 2016 lights but at 12:00 our eyes were on the fabulous fireworks and I was blowing my horn like crazy. Its funny at Times Square you're in corrals while in Central Park everyone is just walking in masses and it was so much fun and all the people so happy and courteous to each other. We met the same type of crowds at the Rockefeller Tree but again a very nice woman offered to take our family picture and in true NY form took about 6 till we all agreed. I love when the person taking the picture likes to make sure they did a good job. So funny...........but truly memorable New York moments!
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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